Recognized for heart attack care

7/12/12 — St. Mary’s Health Care System recently qualified for the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Bronze Quality Achievement Award for heart attack care. The award recognizes St. Mary’s commitment to and success in implementing a higher standard of care that improves the survival and care of patients with a type of heart attack known as STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction).

“St. Mary’s is dedicated to making our cardiac unit among the best in the country,” said Nina Evans, St. Mary’s vice president and chief nursing officer. “The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by providing evidence-based standards that help us improve the outcomes of our cardiac patients. We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in cardiac care.”

Every year, almost 250,000 Americans experience the STEMI type of heart attack, the AHA says, adding that a significant number of those patients do not receive prompt reperfusion therapy. Reperfusion therapy clears blockages from coronary arteries to restore blood flow to vital tissue affected by the heart attack. “Mission: Lifeline works to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments,” AHA states. “Mission: Lifeline is focusing on improving the system of care for these patients and at the same time improving care for all heart attack patients.”

Hospitals involved in Mission: Lifeline strive to improve care for acute treatment while patients are in the hospital and at discharge. One of the key acute treatment measures is fast access to appropriate, life-saving treatments such as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which is available 24/7 at St. Mary’s. In PCI, a long flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and threaded into the blocked artery. A tiny balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to reopen the blood vessel, and then a medicated metal coil, called a stent, is inserted to hold the blood vessel open.

After initial treatment, hospitals involved in Mission: Lifeline start appropriate patients on aggressive risk reduction therapies prior to discharge. These therapies include following AHA guidelines for cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers in the hospital and, when needed, smoking cessation counseling.

The Mission: Lifeline Bronze Performance Achievement Award means qualifying hospitals have met or exceeded rigorous standards for at least 85 percent of eligible STEMI patients for 90 consecutive days. The program is progressive, with hospitals earning silver, gold and gold-plus levels of recognition as they demonstrate compliance for longer periods of time.

“Our goal is to reach and maintain the gold-plus level of achievement for heart attack care, just as we have done for stroke care,” Evans said. “We are committed to providing state-of-the-art cardiac care. It’s a vital part of our mission to serve our community. We want our patients to experience the best possible outcomes.”

St. Mary’s is certified by The Joint Commission in heart failure and provides a continuum of cardiac care from emergency angioplasty and stenting to lifelong wellness. St. Mary’s includes a cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratory, 64-slice CT scanning, pacemaker and cardiac device implantation and follow-up, inpatient intensive and intermediate care, cardiac rehabilitation, home health care and telemedicine, wellness center, nutrition services, a Coumadin clinic available five days a week, and two cardiology physician practices: Oconee Heart and Vascular Center and Northeast Cardiology.

For more information visit


About Mission: Lifeline
The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines. For more information, visit and